Modern off-the-grid homes break stereotypes of the naturalistic lifestyle

Living off the grid conjures up images of survivalists in remote places and a rustic “little house on the prairie” lifestyle with chores from dawn to dusk.

Yet only a tiny fraction of people living off-grid do so, and even fewer live more than an hour from any city.

“Living off-grid doesn’t mean you don’t buy your groceries at a store or take your trash to the local landfill,” says Gary Collins, who has lived off-grid, or mostly off-grid, for a decade. . “It just means you’re not connected to the power grids.”

He has published books on the subject and hosts online courses.

While getting an accurate number of off-grid households is difficult, Collins estimates that only 1% of those living off-grid are in truly remote areas. Overall, off-grid movement remains weak. But this gained momentum after the COVID-19 pandemic: city dwellers began to explore different lifestyles.

An off-grid life unique to each person

More frequent power cuts, difficulties in distribution networks and price increases to cope with severe weather phenomena caused by climate change added to the interest.

There are also those who stay connected to the grid but try to power their home independently of it. Author Sheri Koones, whose books on sustainable homes include “Prefabulous and Almost Off the Grid,” cites increased “net metering,” when your property’s renewable energy source — typically solar — produces more energy. energy than you use, and your local utility pays you the excess.

Today, off-grid living encompasses everything from “dry camping” in RVs (with no electric or water hookups) to swanky estates in Santa Barbara, from modest dwellings tucked away just outside of cities to – yes – secluded rustic cabins.

Mount Jefferson looms over off-grid homes at the Three Rivers Recreation Area in Lake Billy Chinook, Oregon April 26, 2007. Everyone in this community lives "off grid"part of a growing number of homeowners who now get all their electricity from solar, wind, propane and other sources.

“Everyone does it differently and everyone does it in their own way, because it’s their own adventure,” Collins says.

Sleek designs for a modern touch

Anacapa Architecture, in Santa Barbara, California, and Portland, Oregon, has built several high-end off-grid homes in recent years and has several other off-grid projects underway.

“There’s definitely been an increase in traction for this type of lifestyle, especially over the past two years,” says Jon Bang, marketing and public relations coordinator for Anacapa Architecture. “There is a desire to be more in tune with nature.”

The lifestyle that Anacapa homes aim for is one of modernist elegance, not roughness. Bang says new technologies can ensure comfortable self-sufficiency.

Another image of an off-grid guesthouse in Hollister Ranch, California, designed by Anacapa Architecture.  A high level of sensitivity to environmental impacts was exercised throughout all phases of design and construction, the company says.

These homes are also carefully designed to take advantage of the landscape features of the site with sustainability in mind. For example, one of the company’s houses is built into the side of a hill and has a green roof.

For those who can’t afford to hire architects, there are plenty of recent books, blogs, YouTube videos and more devoted to the subject.

“A lot of people are into it now,” Collins says. “They contact me after watching something on TV or on YouTube and I tell them, ‘If you’ve learned everything you know on YouTube, you’re never going to survive.'”

USA Today

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